Chicken Memories from an Old Broiler Queen

By Deborah Littlefield Bird

By Deborah Littlefield Bird

Maine Broiler Queen, 1967 – Photo supplied by the author.

I’ll be sixty-nine years old this summer, and this milestone has me feeling nostalgic as I look back at the life that brought me this far.  It’s been a good life all and all.  Most of it quite ordinary, though lately I’ve realized that there was a part of my childhood that was unique to a few country people from the area where I was raised.   I grew up in Belfast, Maine, across the road from my grandparent’s farm where my grandfather raised thousands of broiler chickens for Penobscot and Maplewood Poultry Companies from the early 1950’s into the 1970’s.

Though the road I lived on was named Pitcher Road, it was locally known as Littlefield Road, because everyone living on that road was my Littlefield relative.  Growing up in this large extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins, parents and grandparents I had a loving support system of people who played together and worked together.  As a child there was always plenty of time for play, but on certain occasions everyone pitched together for work, even the children.  One of those occasions was when we prepared for the new chickens’ arrival to Grandpa’s three-story chicken house.

I grew up hearing and believing that Belfast was the “Chicken Capital of the World.”  Every July the town sponsored the Maine Broiler Festival where thousands of visitors arrived for the gigantic parade through town, barbecued chicken in City Park overlooking Penobscot Bay, pie eating contests, games, dances, and the crowning of the Maine Broiler Queen.  Living in the country we didn’t get to town too often, but this festival was the celebration of the year for chicken farmers, so even the Littlefields piled into the old pickups and headed to town for the entire day and late into the evening.  What a time we had; but for me, the crowning of the broiler queen was the most exciting event.  We kids would choose the beauty who we thought would win and root for her.  Of course, all of us little girls aspired to be up on that stage someday, too.  Broiler Day was definitely a highlight of our summers, but there was much work behind the culmination of that celebration.

Raising chickens was generally dusty, dirty, and very stinky hard work.  Over seven thousand chickens lived together on each floor of the chicken house.  The grain room was attached to the Quonset style barn and held 100-pound burlap bags piled on top of each other filled with a chick mash for the young and poultry feed for the older chickens.  Bags of cracked corn and crushed stone lined the wall for the older chickens.  Cracked corn was spread by hand to fatten up the broilers before being taken back to the factory.  Crushed stone was also spread by the handfuls to help the chicken’s digestion process.  The stone in the bird’s crop helped to grind up the food before digesting it to the stomach below. Below the grain room was the coal room that stored the fuel for the numerous stoves spread throughout each floor of the barn.

Grandpa and Uncle Gene fed, watered, and cared for this huge flock daily.  They didn’t have automated feeders and waterers in those days.  All the work was done by hand, carrying buckets of grain from the grain room to each feeder, up and down the stairs, in and out numerous times.  Glass waterers were re-filled each day, and stoves were filled with coal twice a day to keep the young chicks warm and cozy.  This work continued for seven to nine weeks for the pullets and up to 14 weeks for the roasters.  After a few weeks, a crew of men from the chicken factory would come, herd the flock into a smaller fenced off section of each floor, and de-beak them by burning the tip of the top beak back.  As a child I thought the purpose of that process was to keep them from pecking me, but I suppose it was actually done to keep them from pecking each other.  Chickens feel no loyalty toward each other and will very quickly turn on a weaker brother or sister and peck them to death.  At seven to nine weeks, the factory crew would return and again fence off the chickens to gather up the pullets to take to the factory.  A long flatbed truck stacked several layers high with wooden crates would pull into the yard and up to the end of the chicken house.  After loading all the pullets, the truck with each crate stuffed to the gills with chickens would slowly pull out of the yard.  We’d stand in the driveway watching the feathers fly and listening to the squawking until it was out of sight down the road.  A few weeks later the whole process would be repeated with the roasters.  Then it was time for the kids to get involved!

Ariel photo of chicken farm in Belfast, Maine.

Chicken Farm in Belfast, Maine – Photo provided by author – Copyright Not Evaluated.

Raising chickens was mostly Grandpa and Uncle Gene’s work, but there were times they needed the whole neighborhood of relatives to help.  After the chicken house was cleared out of its inhabitants, a crew of male friends and relatives descended on the barn.  Starting with the top floor they would shovel the packed chicken droppings mixed with old nasty sawdust into wheelbarrows and dump the waste downs three-foot square holes that were aligned with the same size holes on the second floor into dump trucks parked on the bottom floor under the holes above.   When the third floor was cleaned down to the cement, the crew would move to the second floor and clean it.  The bottom floor was easier to clean, because tractors with buckets could drive in to gather up the waste.  The full dump trucks would haul away the waste and spread it onto a farm field far from the house.  Mammie, my dear grandmother, had a nose like a hound dog and wouldn’t stand for the smelly refuge to be spread within a couple of miles of the house.  The chicken house was smelly enough on ordinary days, but stirring up that mess spread that ammonia chicken smell far distances.

Washing the dishes was considered woman’s work in my family, and that rule spread to the chicken barn as well. While the male relatives were cleaning the barn, we girls set up two large metal tubs in the grain room to wash the waterers.  The two-piece glass waterers had caked on crud from living with the chickens for weeks, and getting them clean for the next round of baby chicks was not an easy task.  We set up two large metal tubs in the grain room, one for soapy water and one for rinsing, changing the nasty water every half hour.  We’d take turns washing, rinsing, and stacking the clean waterers on longboards stacked four deep and four wide.  The washing would take about three days to complete, but the camaraderie of story-telling, gossiping, and jokes would make the time fly by.  When I was quite young Mammie, Aunt Wilda, and Aunt Bev were the chief bottle washers, but as the next generation of girls grew old enough, we took over the responsibility.  My cousins Brenda, Rhonda, and Linda and I have great memories of working on the waterers for several years.  Rhonda reminded me lately of the time Mammie picked up a dirty waterer and found a nest of baby mice inside.  Not fazed, she quickly disposed of the vermin and continued with the task at hand.  When finished with the washing and cleaning up the grain room, Grandpa would give each of us girls a silver dollar for our efforts.  I always saved that silver dollar to spend at the Union Fair every August.

Next came the sawdust truck.  It had a long shute attached to the back of the truck that could fit into the barn windows, and sawdust was blown into huge piles on both ends of each floor.  I loved the day that the sawdust truck came, because we kids would get to play in the huge sawdust mounds, sliding down the sides and playing king of the mountain.  After sufficient playtime, it was time to spread the sawdust about six inches deep over the floors.  Using wheelbarrows and shovels we kids worked together with the men to finish this chore.  In the wintertime, Grandpa would keep the coal stoves lit for us, and the warm and sweet smelling barn was a cozy place to be.

The next step to ready the barn for the new chicks was to place rolled corrugated cardboard rings around each coal stove.  We’d tuck the bottom of the rings into the sawdust and edge it with our feet so it would be stable.  Then we’d lay newspapers inside of these rings, so that the baby chicks wouldn’t eat the sawdust.  We kids had contests to see how fast we could lay papers, but Grandpa’s inspection always made us be careful to lay them correctly with no sawdust showing.  Next we filled the waterers and feeders and placed five of them in each circle.  Now the chicken house was ready, and excitement mounted for us kids.

My favorite chicken memories were when the day old babies arrived.  My cousins and I would wait on the big rock on the front lawn guessing which upcoming vehicle sound would be the chicken truck, anxiety growing with each passing vehicle.  When it did arrive, we kids would run to meet the small crew bringing this precious cargo.  The covered trailer held stacks on stacks of cardboard boxes with circular breathing holes showing little beaks and fluffy heads peering out.  Instead of the squawking of the grown chickens going to the factory, the greeting of soft peepers coming to us from the factory was music to our ears.  Each of us would wait in line to carry a box of baby chicks into the barn and stack them in the grain room for the two upper floors and the coal room for the bottom floor.  After the truck was emptied and on its way, we would take each box to a warm coal-fired stove circled with cardboard rings and papered so neatly.  Then we would reach our hands into one of the four compartments in the box and lift out the soft little balls of fur, so warm and sweet.  The memory of that act is still so vivid in my mind.  Over and over we would reach in and gently empty out box after box of the babies into their new home.    For me, the climax of the week of work we had done in preparation for their arrival was the moments we handled those little ones.  I would go to visit those chicks each day for a week or so until they started growing big feathers.  At that point they weren’t cute and sweet anymore, and my attention would turn to some other adventure on the farm.  Then the work in the chicken house turned back to Grandpa and Uncle Gene once more until we all would be needed again in 14 to 15 weeks.

1967 Crowning of Broiler Queen Debbie Littlefield byAgriculture Commissioner Maynard Dolloff – 1967 (Photo by Walter Dickey)

Each year the poultry company would give bonus checks to farm raisers who raised the healthiest chickens with the fewest death rates.  Grandpa always received a bonus check, and a few times was named “Grower of the Year” by the poultry company.  During those years he would be invited to a celebration and banquet hosted by Penobscot or Maplewood Company.  Mammie was always too shy to attend these functions with Grandpa, so Aunt Bev went with him a few times.

As I grew into a teenager and was busy with school and summer jobs, the chicken work was turned over to younger siblings and cousins.  However, we all still celebrated the chicken industry every July at the Broiler Festival.  My little girl’s dream of being on that queen’s stage came true for me in 1967 when I was crowned Maine Broiler Queen.  My chicken raising family picked me as the beauty of their choice, and the cycle was completed.  The Portland Press Herald featured a picture of me with my crown and trophy and titled it, “The Pick of the Chicks”.

During the next ten years, my grandfather retired from raising chickens, and the chicken industry in Belfast was dying.  Today the factories are gone and only a few old chicken houses remain in the mid-coastal area of Maine, and these few remaining barns now are renovated into storage facilities or for other uses.  Yes, looking back over these past 69 years at my ordinary life, I realize that my chicken raising experiences weren’t all that ordinary.  Those days are gone forever except in the memories of the aging populace from “the Chicken Capital of the World.”




The Smart Boys Come to “Old Bangor”

The Smart Boys Come to “Old Bangor”
Checking the Facts in Family Legends

Sandra Dugans Burke

 Many families have stories and legends that have been passed down through generations.  One of the family reunions I have attended since childhood always included reading a poem detailing the family history.  I decided to check the facts and found some surprising results! 

“When our people crossed the ocean
Around seventeen seventy-one,
They landed in old Bangor
When the town was first begun.”

So starts a poem written for Smart Reunion 1939 by Anson F. “Uncle Anse” Smart. It makes a lovely beginning and rhymes well, but a bit of poetic license seems to have taken over some of the facts! It is true that the “Smart Boys” arrived in “old Bangor” (actually called Conduskeag then) in 1771 and there were only two families in residence there:[1] they did NOT, however, sail across the ocean, but only up the coast from Brunswick, Maine, where the family had lived for two generations. Of course, the Smarts had at some point sailed across the ocean, the most likely ancestor being a Thomas Smart and his wife Margaret. They and their sons, John and Robert, sailed from Hingham, Norfolkshire, England, in 1635. They settled in Exeter, Massachusetts.[2]  The first Smart ancestors for whom we have primary evidence are brothers John, Robert, and Thomas Smart who appear in Brunswick in the mid 1730’s.[3] The continual recurrence of the names John, Robert, Thomas, and Margaret in our family have indicated to most researchers that the 1635 Thomas and Margaret were probably our original immigrant ancestors.

In 1809, Thomas Howard of Bangor wrote in a deposition:

“. . . moved in to this country in the year 1771 in April with Capt Thomas Smart and was landed on Conduskeag point, and built a house for Capt. Smart. . . . There came at the same time John Smart, Hugh Smart, Jacob Dennet [and 3 others; Jacob Dennet was married to Elizabeth Smart]. . . . We all assisted in building a house for Capt. Smart.  In May following, Capt. Smart moved his family down. . . .”[4]

Thomas, John, Hugh, Elizabeth, and Margaret (married to James Budge) were the children of Robert and Katharine Smart of Brunswick.[5] These 5 siblings were among the very first settlers of what would become Bangor, Maine.

A journal written at the time describes:

. . . three brothers who went to sea and owned a coaster together. Thomas was the captain, John and Hugh sometimes went on trips. They talked large and were disposed to be ‘bullies’. Hugh was never married and died at sea, the others at home.[6]

Thomas and John Smart took lots on the north side of the ‘conduskeag’ stream. Thomas built a large cabin on the rise of land where the Kenduskeag meets the Penobscot (about where All Souls Congregational Church now sits).[7] Robert Treat in his journal of the time, states “Thomas’ house was about 30 rods from the river and the woods were so thick that we could not see the river from the house.” [Hard to imagine now!] John Smart had a lot next to Mr. Harlow’s, a bit further up the Kenduskeag Stream. On the 1801 maps it looks to run from the stream to above where the Bangor Public Library sits today. John Smart helped build and was part owner, with William Hammond of one of the first mills on the Kenduskeag.[8]

Penobscot River along bottom, Kenduskeag Stream joining at Y junction.

Lot # 67 belonged to John Smart.  #66 to Mr. Harlow and #70 to Wm Hammond.[9]

The same source mentions: “September 18, 1774, Rev Daniel Little of Kennebunk was at Captain Smart’s at Condeskeag. It being Sunday, he preached and baptized six children.”[10] This was the first-known record of a church service in Bangor. John Smart and brother-in-law James Budge would later donate land to build the first meeting house.[11]

Capt. Thomas Smart died in March 1776 and was buried on his lot. John Smart and his family moved in to “help” the widow. A tax list for heads of families in 1776 lists John Smart (1 pound, 7 shillings, 9 pence) and widow Elizabeth Smart, along with Jacob Dennett and James Budge. The Smarts and their in-laws owned a good bit of the town![12]

Alas, the Smarts’ living arrangements were not working out! John, his wife Olive and family, widow Elizabeth and family, and John’s mother, Katharine, were all living in the house Thomas had built. Widow Elizabeth and children soon left to go back to Brunswick, with assurances that money and supplies would be sent from the estate. A great deal of controversy arose over the next twenty years, resulting in lawsuits and depositions that detail the disagreements over the handling of the estate. For a full account, you can check out Ruth Gray’s article, “The Homestead of Thomas Smart of Bangor: Gleaning Genealogical Information from Depositions.”[13]

“Great Grandad raised six sprightly girls
Who helped the world move on
He also had three likely boys,
Named Thomas, Hugh and John.
John married Mary Lyford
And raised a family
But his two brothers, Hugh and Tom
I am told were lost at sea.”

John I (Great Grandad) and Olive Smart had at least 11 children: Hugh Percy (approx. 1774–1807), Elizabeth, Mary (Polly), Katherine (1773–1826), Sarah (1779–1854), Olive (1783–1838), John II (1785–1853), Margaret (1790–?), Rebecca (1792–?), Francis (1793–?), and David (1798–1823). Family myth apparently has confused the generations: it was Great Grandad’s brother Hugh who was lost at sea. John II (who married Mary Lyford) had 7 sisters and 3 brothers, Hugh Percy and David died young, but not at sea. Francis owned land in Howland in 1830 but does not appear again in records.[14]

John Smart I died intestate in July 1805, and the probate and inventory of his estate can be found in Penobscot County Probate Records. His wife, Olive, was appointed administratrix; she was illiterate, her mark appears on all documents. At the time of his death, John owned ninety-one acres of land and buildings on the shores of the Kenduskeag, assessed at $1365, and personal assets of $304.16. He had a long list of debts, however, and Olive needed funds to support minor children, so the court ordered the land to be sold. The street through the land once owned by John is now called Harlow St. for his neighbor who owned the next lot.

 Checking the facts in this family poem greatly enriched our family story. Yes, there was a bit of poetic license taken, but what was learned was so much more than what had been passed down.

The first Smart Reunion held in 1891 to celebrate the visit of two of John II’s “Sprightly” daughters who had gone with their husbands to California for the Gold Rush. (Photo from Ancestors and Descendants of John and Mary Lyford Smart, used with permission of the authors).

[1] J. E. Godfrey The Annals of Bangor in The History of Penobscot County (1882), p. 517.
[2] R. C. Anderson, The Great Migration, Immigrants to New England, 1634–1635 (2009), 6:318–19
[3] J. C. Anderson, Vital Records of Brunswick, Maine, 1740–1860 (2004).
[4] Annals of Bangor, p. 517.
[5] Vital Records of Brunswick, Maine, p. 24.
[6] Annals of Bangor, p. 517.
[7] Annals of Bangor, p. 517.
[8] Annals of Bangor, p. 539.
[9] Map from The History of Penobscot County (1882), p. 514.
[10] Annals of Bangor, p. 518.
[11] Annals of Bangor, p. 531.
[12] Annals of Bangor, p. 522–23.
[13] The Maine Genealogist (1996) 18:57–62.
[14] Frances D. Dekin, Helen H. Deag & Sandra D. Burke, Ancestors and Descendants of John and Mary Lyford Smart (2016).


Living in Maine

By Marjorie (Schultz) Bullard

Edited and shared by her son Jay Bullard


On a cold rainy morning in May 1989, the descendants of William and Nina (Bowerman) Schultz gathered at Sangerfield Village Cemetery to attend the burial of their younger son, Sieferd B. Schultz.  Later the family met at our home in Guilford to get warm, to have something to eat and drink, to look at old photos and snapshots and talk about our life in Maine.

The grandchildren had many questions about our moving to from Mayville, Michigan to Maine and especially about the houses we had lived in after the move to Maine.

Sometime later I wrote a short article and showed it to several of my family.  Most of them praised it, but, “Well,” it is good, or, why didn’t you put in this or I wish you had added that.  So, this is the revised edition of my first attempt.

Our Journey from Michigan to Maine

In August 1924, Bill and Nina Schultz with their four children, Doris, John, Sieferd and me, Marjorie, left our home in Mayville, Michigan to start a new life in Guilford, Maine.   Bill had been working at the Chevrolet plant in Flint. He stayed in Flint during the week and came home weekends, but that wasn’t an ideal situation with mother being alone with four children most of the time. Before working in Flint, he had been employed by Lloyd Cartwright, the owner of a general store in Mayville.  A few years before Mr. Cartwright had bought a new business in Maine, the hardwood products mill in Guilford.  He offered Dad a job and that was the beginning of a new life for all of us in Maine.

After packing our belongings and paying the last visit to all our relatives, we set out. We traveled in a model T Ford, Dad, Doris, John, Sieferd, me (Marjorie) and Mother, seven months pregnant. Yes, we were crowded.  The car was only two years old, but cars, especially tires, wore out quickly those days.

Niagara Falls - Photo by Shelby L. Bell (CC BY 2.0) via flickr

Niagara Falls

The first day we crossed Lake Huron on a ferry and were then in Ontario. From Ontario, we came back into the United States at Niagara Falls.  What a thrill that was.  The falls is a beautiful place to visit for anyone, but for a family who had never been outside the state of Michigan, it was very exciting. As for me, the big attraction was the huge building housing the Shredded Wheat factory. Yes, Shredded Wheat is still my favorite cereal.

I am not certain where we stayed each night, but I do know we stayed nights at farmhouses and homes that catered to travelers, charging a dollar a bed. Needless to say, we doubled up.

We made our way East through New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire and finally into Maine. The trip through those states had both amusing and depressing moments. We had many flat tires, one after another.  Lots of tires to patch and put back on the wheels.  One morning we were sitting in a restaurant eating our breakfast when we heard a tire blow; we laughed and said, “That wasn’t ours.” Imagine our surprise when we left the restaurant.  There sat the car with a flat tire.  Back to work Dad and sons.

Another thing that was new to us coming from a flat area of Michigan was all the hills and mountains in Vermont and New Hampshire. Many times Dad had to turn around and back up the mountains. To all of us, this was our first sight of the Atlantic Ocean. I couldn’t see much difference between the ocean and Lake Huron. My sister Doris and I had been given some change and bought a souvenir. Doris bought a sweetgrass basket and I still have my small vase with butterflies painted on it.  This was our first day in Maine. And the place was Old Orchard. That afternoon we drove to Waterville and stayed overnight at a farmhouse nearby.

The next day, the twentieth of August, and Doris’s fifteenth birthday, we arrived in Guilford.  We were expected, for Mr. Cartwright had made all the arrangements.  We had our furniture transported by railway car and had a house rented for us.

Settling in Maine

Our first house in Guilford was on the back road to Abbot. We had a busy afternoon moving in and getting settled. We lived there for three months and I remember it as a happy time.  The house had both front and back stairways, something new to us and all children like to travel up one way and down the other.  We also got acquainted with our neighbors and they made us feel very welcome, especially Charles and Mary Adams. We were very close to them until they died.

In September we children started school in Abbot.  I remember riding to school in a horse-drawn school bus. At least I did, but when I mentioned it to Doris years later she said, “You did, we older ones had to walk.”

On September 28, our sister Gertrude Merlene was born.  What a pretty baby she was with her curly brown hair and brown eyes.

Pick Mill in 1938 - Source: Puritan Medical Products Company, LLC - used by permission.

Pick Mill, Guilford, Maine – 1938 – Image courtesy of Puritan Medical Products, LLC.

We lived in that house until Thanksgiving weekend and then a house was found for us in Guilford. This was a two-family house on High Street across from the Gene Genthener Farm. We lived in that house for the next nine months and then moved to the square house on School Street opposite the Pick Mill. We stayed there for ten years.  When Dad first went to work in the Pick Mill, he worked in the warehouse, getting acquainted with the products. But about this time he was promoted to foreman in the packing department, a position he held until he retired the last of October 1952.

A lot happened in those ten years. On August 17, 1927, mother gave birth to Patricia Jean.  She was as pretty as Trudy but had blonde hair and blue eyes. We always called her Pat or Patty.

By 1933 our family had shrunk to Dad, Mom and we three girls at home.  But we had gained three in-laws and three grandchildren and by the end of March 1935, four more.

In June of that year, I graduated from Guilford High School.  Soon after I went to work in the mill, twelve dollars a week. Lucky me. That summer was the last of us living on School Street because Dad and Mother bought a big house on the corner of Summer and Pleasant Street from Luella Littlefield. That house would remain in our family for the next 61 years. The house had nine rooms, two stairways, halls upstairs and down, a bathroom, a pantry, a glassed-in porch and a shed all under one roof. In addition, there was a garage and a two-story shed with two smaller sheds attached to it. Of course, we didn’t have furniture to fill it up but we added other items as we could. I had the big front room upstairs and to go with my bed and dresser, I bought a couch a chair and a desk.  The desk I bought from Wards with the money I received at graduation time. Twenty dollars from a scholarship, two from John and Harriet, two from Mama Adams, and I can’t remember where the other dollar came from. Yes, the desk cost twenty-five dollars. Imagine my surprise when I walked into Wards Store just before they closed and saw a similar desk priced at 325 dollars. Inflation…I also bought a cedar chest. That twelve dollars weekly went a long way.

A New House

We moved into our new home the Saturday before Labor Day. At that time the house was painted dark brown and had a circular driveway around it. Below that was a large area where Dad would have a large vegetable garden every year and Mother had a flower garden. She grew beautiful sweet peas, I can smell them now. What she really cherished was her gladiolus. When we think of her, we think glads.

The heating was with wood stoves, a big one in the den, another in the living room, and in the kitchen a black iron cook stove. Upstairs was another wood stove.  What a cold house that was.

Jay and his mother - 1945 - From author's collection

Jay Bullard and his mother – 1945

The big change in our lived came from having more room to have get-togethers and we had many, some planned, others impromptu. I remember Sunday night card parties. Cards were a big part of our life, sixty-three, Michigan Rummy and of course, cribbage. I almost forgot solitaire, at least for Mother and me. Mostly the family just dropped by. The grandchildren loved those stairways, up and down, up and down, trying to hide from the others or scare them. Another reason to visit was Grammy’s big glass cookie jar in the pantry. Everyone knew Grammy baked sugar cookies on Saturday. Years later, when my nephew visited my husband and me, he kept going to the pantry door and standing there looking for something. Finally, I asked him what he was looking for. And he said, “Where’s Grammy’s cookie jar.” The next time he came, I hurried to make a batch of cookies, but anyone could see they didn’t measure up.

Another attraction was what the children called the playroom. This was the open chamber over the dining room. The playroom was unfinished and mostly used for storage.  The Christmas before we left Michigan, the man who was our next door neighbor there had made a doll’s bed, table, and cupboard. Along with Trudy’s and Pat’s dolls and playthings, it was an ideal place to spend hours and probably gave the adults a better chance to play cards. And in the summer we had a great attraction. The well with a pump, always ready to be pumped. Oh, the water fights, many of them. All the kids were always ready to gather there.

The County was gradually recovering from the Depression, everyone was working, life was getting easier and I gave my mother the princely sum of three dollars each week from my twelve so she would have more spending money. She joined the Grange and Farm Bureau, now Extension. That organization met at members’ homes in a rotation for dinner and meetings. Mother was great at handicrafts such as crocheting and had our home fixed up so that she and the rest of the family were proud to have guests.

We also had some of our relatives from Michigan visiting occasionally. I remember those years as a happy era. Most of the family was working, seemed to be happy and life was good. I married Edwin Bullard and moved to Dexter. The Mountains lived there and Edwin had his Father and Mother, two brothers, Albert and John, a sister Ina and best of all two grandmothers and a grandfather. I had never known either of my grandmothers so that was wonderful for me. In June 1938, we had a son Phillip. He was born in the front bedroom of the family home and Mother took care of me, the same as she had done for the births of all her other grandchildren. The next year John and Harriet had another daughter, Barbara. That was the last time Mother was a midwife.

World War Two started in September of 1939 and times began to change, business began to pick up. In 1940 Edwin and I had another son, Edwin Junior (J.R.) in October.  He went by various nicknames until he was about eighteen and told us he wanted to be called Jay. He is still Jay to this day.

Wassebec Genealogical Society Workshop May 19th.


Photo by Stuart Hedstrom | Piscataquis Observer

On May 19th the Wassebec Chapter will sponsor a free workshop to be held in the Sebec Room in Mayo Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft. From 9 to 12 the speaker will be Judy Reitze, former director of the Family History Center in Bangor.  Judy will take us through using the Family Search website which can get confusing at times.  From 1-4 Nina Brawn, a former columnist for the Piscataquis Observer will be with us to take us through using  Snacks and lunch are included. If you aren’t already pre-registered for the workshop, please do that as soon as you can.  We are limited in the number the room will legally hold and would like to have a good idea how many to expect by May 15h if possible. If you have questions, need directions, or want any other info, please get in touch with Nancy Battick 564-3576 or NormaJean Mahar 564-7363. Hope to see you at the workshop,  

Passing of Clyde G. Berry

It is with great sadness I report the passing of Clyde G. Berry on 5 May 2018.

Photo of Clyde Berry

Clyde Berry

Clyde was an avid genealogist; he was a life member of the Maine Genealogical Society and has served as Treasurer and Director. He was a member and President of the Taconnett Falls Chapter of MGS and past President of the Penobscot Chapter of MGS. He was a life member and Past President of the Maine Old Cemetery Association as well as a member of the Board of Directors. He was a member of the New England Historical and Genealogical Society. He served as President of the Somerville Historical Society of Somerville, Maine and was involved with the publishing of the History of Patricktown/Somerville, Maine. He was a member of The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, descended from Labon P. Frost of Glenburn and John H. Johnson of Wellington, and also was a member and Past President of Maine Society Sons of the American Revolution, descended from Sargent Shaw, Richard Whitten and Daniel Tarbox. He was a member of the St. Andrew’s Society of Maine. He has also belonged to the Colson, Reynolds, McKusick and Hubbard family associations.

He is survived by a brother, Charles R. Berry of Glenburn, Maine, many cousins and friends.

He will be deeply missed.

2018 Award of Excellence in Genealogical Service

During the MGS 2018 Spring Workshop, Paul Doucette received the 2018 Award of Excellence in Genealogical Service. MGS President Carol P. McCoy presented the award to Paul. Congratulations Paul!

Maine Genealogical Society

Award of Excellence

In Genealogical Service

Presented to


In recognition of his enthusiasm, dedication, and leadership in genealogy as a Maine Genealogical Society director and member of the Program Committee, as a Past President of the Greater Portland Chapter MGS, and as the inspiration for the Southern Maine Genealogy Conference.

Thank you!

Maine will miss you

April 21, 2018

Photo of Paul Doucette & Carol McCoy by Don Taylor

Paul Doucette & Carol McCoy

Sharing What You Know….and what you have

By Deborah Nowers

When Joe Anderson suggested that our workshop this year should focus on writing, I was delighted.  His comment, “after all that research, if you don’t write it up; rest assured your heirs won’t either!” struck home.  I am the end of several lines of ancestors who were interested in family history and kept things.  I needed a way to share my research and document the things that I had inherited.  I also needed to find homes for documents and objects I couldn’t keep.  I hoped they would stay in the family.

I took “write it up” broadly.  In my presentation at the conference, I described four ways that I had shared what I knew and what I had.

Image for Sharing What you Know.

The first was to write a genealogy article.  I chose Gramma Withey’s table and the sampler inside that corrected the published Boynton genealogy.  The resulting article was published in The Essex Genealogist.

Then I described a collection of photographs, postcards, and documents from Grampy’s Footlocker that depicted my Grandfather’s service with the Post Office during World War I. Because it was almost exactly 100 years after his departure for France, American Ancestors magazine though it would be timely for a fall 2017 issue.

When I emptied my mother’s house, I needed to find homes for ancestral furniture that I couldn’t use.  The 1790’s canopy bed delighted my cousin’s granddaughter.  It had belonged to her 5th great-grandparents.  I decided that a children’s book describing the owners of the bed would help her—and her mother and grandmother—know its history.  “Haven’s Bed” was the result.

Finally, my husband and I found thirteen monogrammed coin silver spoons in the cellar of my mother-in-law’s house.  When we distributed them to descendants, I included a genealogy sketch that outlined the recipient’s descent from the original owner—with each one’s line highlighted.  It was practice writing for me and perhaps sparked an interest in genealogy for those who received it.

And here is the fifth way…share what you know on the MGS Blog.  It is less intimidating than articles in a prescribed format.  A post can be short.  It can be a description of how you solved a problem, or like me, tell a story about your family.  Have you discovered a great library or historical society that not enough people know about?  Tell us!  My goal is to have a posting each week; for that to happen, we need lots of help.  Give it a shot.  Submit to  Pictures are welcomed.

If you are reading this and want to keep up with the blog, subscribe to email notifications of new postings.  Add your email address where it says “Subscribe to Blog Via Email.”  Easy, and guaranteed it will be more interesting than most of your emails.

UPDATE—Maine Calling About Genealogy

Carol McCoy, Radio host Keith Shortall, & Nancy Mason.

UPDATE: Radio Show Available Online!

Carol & Nancy had a great show. If you missed it, it is available online at Maine Public Radio – “Genealogy: Interest In Researching Family Roots Surges.”

Wow—here’s a fun invitation. MGS is coming to Public Radio! Cindy Han, a producer of Maine Public’s Radio interactive show–Maine Calling–called to invite me to speak about genealogy on the radio this Wednesday. I’ll be a guest on Maine Calling on April 18th from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. I’ll be joined by the show host, Keith Shortall and DNA expert Nancy Mason in the Portland studio of Maine Public Radio.

Nancy and I will be talking about doing genealogy research, especially in Maine. We are excited to answer your questions or at least try to answer them! Listeners will be able to contact us with their questions in three ways. First, you can call in on 1-800-399-3566. Second, you can email your questions to
Third, you can tweet them @MaineCalling. You can listen to the show live on your local Maine Public Radio station from 1:00 to 2:00 or hear a rebroadcast at 8:00 p.m. Maine Calling will post this show on their Facebook page the morning of the show.

Maine Towns with Vital Records



Many original town vital records are now available to view free on the website. One must sign in to be able to view the images. Once signed in, bring up the drop-down menu “search”, select “catalog” and enter the name of the town you are searching for. The following listing shows towns and counties in Maine, many of which have been filmed and are now available on their website. Some were filmed but are not yet available to view on their website while others were never filmed. Those not filmed or unavailable online may be for records after 1896 or may have been lost due to fire or other damage to the original records. In the column entitled “Records Available”, I have indicated the years which were filmed and whether available online or not. Some records have been published and that information, when known, has been indicated in the appropriate columns. The published records may be available in many larger libraries. If a town’s records have been published in their entirety, no information has been given regarding film availability.
Marlene A. Groves

Updated 27 March 2018

Download File: Maine Towns Published.PDF

President McCoy Speaks In Scarborough

Photo of Carol McCoy & Don Taylor

Carol McCoy & Don Taylor

On February 27th, MGS President Carol P. McCoy spoke at the Scarborough Public Library Genealogy Group on “Drowning of Sam Pollack – Myth and Reality – Investigating Family Stories.” Her presentation revolved around her great-grandfather’s death when her grandmother was an infant and her research to separate myth from reality in telling his story. Her talk fascinated the 34 attendees and reminded them of important genealogical research strategies such as remaining flexible about names, dates, and religion as well as remaining creative in approaching research. The Scarborough Public Library Genealogy Group began last October and is led by MGS Member, and assistant MGS webmaster, Don Taylor. The group meets regularly at 1 PM on the fourth Monday of the month at the Scarborough Public Library. Their Facebook group page is (or search for “Scarborough Public Library Genealogy Group”).

Washington County Historical & Genealogical Society

The Washington County Historical and Genealogical Society is a group dedicated to historical preservation and genealogical research in Washington County, Maine. By working together historical societies, genealogists, and researchers can pool their limited resources, collaborate on larger scale projects, and promote each other’s work.
Members receive a quarterly newsletter Weirs & Woods, which features free queries, information and the exchange of genealogical material, in addition to news from the affiliating Washington County historical societies.  Membership in the WCHGS is open to anyone interested in learning more about their family genealogy and/or the history of Washington County and neighboring Charlotte County, New Brunswick.  Officers include President, Betsy Fitzgerald of Bucks Harbor; Vice President, Celeste Sherman of Machiasport; Secretary, Valdine Atwood of Machias, and Treasurer, Carole Sprague of Marshfield.

WCH&GS Contact Information –   Officers:

Annual dues, $10 per calendar year: Send to Treasurer Carole Sprague, 301 Ridge Rd., Marshfield, ME 04654 – Check payable to WCH&GS: Regular meetings of WCHGS will be on a quarterly basis. ‘Extra meetings’ could be held during the year at the approval of the membership. Historical societies can affiliate themselves with WCHGS by donating to the Society.

Newsletter – Weirs & Woods –

Send Changes of Address to: Celeste Sherman at Send submissions for what is going on, Queries, Reunions, and stories on Washington County History or Genealogy to Valdine Atwood at or by mail to 17 Colonial Way, Machias, ME 04654  


Membership in the Washington County His­torical & Genealogical Society is by the calendar year, January to December. For those joining later in the year, newsletters already published will be sent to you. The reason for this policy, we are a small organization so it is too difficult to keep track of mid-year renewals.